Last night’s NWNUG meeting

I was pleased with the format of last night’s user group meeting. We had a smallish crowd, but considering the weather and that we had rescheduled the meeting it wasn’t too shabby. We even had at least one person drive a good distance to make the meeting- glad you made it out Michael!

I spoke on Real World Agile development, and Jason presented on some new features of SQL 2008.  My goal was to make my portion of the presentation interactive.  My temptation is to do “normal presenter mode”, but fortunately about half way through the presentation I realized it was me doing most of the talking.  So I probed the group and we had some pretty good interaction.   The majority of the group had at least heard of agile (though a few had not), but only a few had actually used it.  I found that kind of interesting.  If I end up taking this presentation on the road I plan on conducting a little more market research to determine what other dev teams are using, and why.  Anyway, the agile approach that I reviewed was based on my own personal experiences at several clients and former employers- it is most closely aligned with “Scrum”. I basically walked through the agile process, how I came to use it, and the benefits of it. 

I’ve learned that there are a lot of nay-sayers to agile projects, especially if you use the term “agile” in front of someone used to waterfall, and especially people who are PMP certified. In past places I’ve worked, I hear things like “agile = chaos” … “cowboy coding” … “no planning”.  In some cases they are right- if agile is not implemented properly, or you have too junior of people on the team, etc. you can get into some sticky situations.  I’ve learned to avoid some of the negative connotation by speaking about agile using other descriptions, like “Sprint Cycles” or “Quick Hits”.  These terms seem a little more business friendly, and PMP’s eventually understand that the process is still structured and planned, it’s just set up to do more frequent releases.

If you think your user group or event might be interested in a real world agile talk, please let me know!

Jason’s talk was also really great- he showcased some awesome new features of SQL 2008. I was particularly interested in the intellisense available in the query window- that will certainly save when typing queries, functions, etc.  Another cool feature that stuck out was user defined table types. You will now be able to pass a table as a parameter into stored procedure. This will save you from having to do multiple inserts / updates / etc.  I can remember in the past trying to pass in delimited strings with a limit of 4000, which was a real pain. Or, inserting a bunch of stuff into a temp table and running a proc against that table.  Jason also showed us some the new UPSERT functionality- which is also really slick.  You can very easily synchronize your table up with a data feed.  Last but not least was the new spatial functionality of SQL Server.  Since I am geocacher, I thought this one was also interesting, though I zoned out a little toward the end when he started talking about trig. 🙂


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